The Motorcycle; A Brief History.
In order to discuss the history of a motorcycle or motorbike, we must first start with the creation and adaptation of the bicycle, from its earliest wooden designs and the vision of Michelangelo.
The first ever conceptualised idea of the possibility of a 2 wheeled vehicle came from Michelangelo during the 14th century. It did not however, have any means of steering the front wheel, breaks to stop it or any means of propelling it other than a down hill slalom.
The Hobbyhorse, invented by Comte de Sivrac in 1791, had no steering, brakes or pedals and was made entirely out of wood. It took Baron van Drais, in the early 1800, to design the first bicycle. This bicycle, which of course, still lacked pedals or brakes, was the first to be designed with front wheel steering. This of course would be a necessity latter on with the conception of the Motorcycle or Motorbike.
William van Anden, from New York, finalised the idea of the two wheeled vehicle, by adding, pedals and a friction brake to his steerable, wooden bicycle.
The late 1800's brought around the invention of the chain, where as previously leather straps had been utilised, which was light enough for human powered vehicles. Brakes, and air filled tires, all of which are fundamental necessities of the modern motorcycle or Motorbike, were also invented during this time period.
400 years after Michelangelo's first design of the bicycle, the 2 wheeled vehicle finally returned to it's inventors original vision, with more improvements than Michelangelo could ever have dreamed up.
The first major attempt to create a motor driven 2 wheeled vehicle occurred in 1818 when there was an attempt to attach a steam engine to a Hobbyhorse. This however did not take off very well, but still lead, by technicality, the Motorcycle/Motorbike or motor driven bicycle to have come into existence preceding the advent of the 3 or 4 wheeled "Automobile"
The first true motorcycle, as we think of them, started with Mr. Gottlieb Daimler in 1877, and "The Daimler-Maybach". At a speed of 15 KM, the Daimler-Maybach, travelled from Paris to German Saint. The Daimler-Maybach, was soon followed by the Daimler, Europe. A 1/2 horsepower, motorcycle with an Otto-cycle engine, which is considered by many as the first true Motorcycle.
1892 brought around the Five Cylinder Millet, which had a rotary engine mounted to the back wheel. The worlds first production Motorcycles/Motorbikes, The Hilderbrand and Wolfmuller, were invented in 1894. The Hilderbrand and Wolfmuller came with 1428 cc water cooled four-stroke engines producing 2 1/2 horsepower, with a top speed of 25 mph.
The rest as we say is history. The early 1900's brought around racing, which is the number one cause and effect for the continuous adaptation and evolution of the motorcycle from its Daimler origin to the Suzukis, Kawasakis and Duccatis of today. The whole idea, much like the helicopter and many other great modes of transport today, started with a vision.
A vision of a man, well before his time, known to the world as; Michelangelo.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 11/06/2007